Does the British town of Templecombe prove a link between the Knights Templar and the Turin Shroud far off in Italy? There has been a large amount of speculation in recent years about the relevance of the shroud to the knights. Some scoff at the alleged link while others have written books to prove this sacred relic had huge relevance to the Templars.
READ MORE: How to find your Knight Templar ancestors
Templars and the Turin Shroud – proof in England?
Today, Templecombe is a relatively sleepy town in cider and cricket loving Somerset in the south west of England. I hope nobody who lives there is offended by my description! A few years ago, The Guardian newspaper carried a report on a strange discovery that suggested a link between the Knights Templar and the Turin Shroud – found at Templecombe.
The town’s name is a king-size hint that there was once a Templar preceptory in the area. Not every town with “Temple” in it is 100% guaranteed to have a Templar link but it’s normally a good indication. With Templecombe – we know the knights had a base there.
In 1185 – decades after the Templars had been established – the manor was granted to the knights. It was known as Combe Templariorum. Several legal cases in the years that followed confirm their presence.
Tragically, we even know that after the Templars were outlawed in 1307, the preceptor of Combe – William de Burton – was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was joined there by two other knights: John de Aley and Walter de Rokele.
What has excited local historians for many years is an image of Christ dated to within the Templar era that many think closely resembles the ghostly face on the Turin Shroud.
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Molly Drew, Templecombe and the Turin Shroud
There’s no trace of the Templar preceptory – its church and outbuildings – now in Templecombe. But in 1945, at the end of World War Two, a woman called Molly Drew found a very haunting image covered in dust. It was a painted panel, which she took back to her garden shed and cleaned up. It turned out to be a representation of Christ dating to 1280.
The image is the face of Jesus. I’m not wholly convinced that it bears a great resemblance to the Turin Shroud – which has also been claimed to be an image of the last Templar grand master Jacques de Molay! But it’s certainly an arresting representation.
The disappearance of Templar Templecombe
A manor house built after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries (the preceptory had fallen in to the hands of the Hospitallers by then) has swallowed up the remaining walls of the Templar house. There are other buildings in the village including the local pub which are believed to contain bits of the original Templar estate including a guest house.
Channel Four’s Time Team archaeology programme tried to discover more of the Templar preceptory in a three day dig with limited success. But while the evidence of Templar habitation has dwindled to a few bits of masonry, this painted panel has set hearts fluttering at the thought it proves a link between the Templars and the Turin Shroud.